Today, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP made the biggest announcement of his tenure to date, setting out the direction of travel through a set of reforms to planning and housing delivery.
Very little firm detail was announced as much will be subject to the outcome of current or future consultation. A flurry of further documents and legislation will follow during the year:
- A Planning White Paper will be issued later “this Spring” to coincide with the publication of the Spending Review by the Chancellor of the Exchequer
- A detailed housing strategy will also appear, setting out ways to improve the housing market
- A Social Housing White Paper will be published
Today’s 10-page statement of intent entitled “Planning for the Future” set out a comprehensive range of initiatives for the coming years, some of which are developer friendly and some of which veer towards empowering local people to increase their say in what gets built locally.
Here are the key points in this statement:
- Measures to speed up the planning system – in the forthcoming Planning White Paper measures will be proposed to maximise the use of technology to assist the public “play a role in decisions”.
- Reform of planning fees so that local authorities are “properly resourced” and provide for automatic refunds for successfully appealed planning applications to promote “proper consideration” of applications at planning committees.
- New Zoning Tools – The Planning White Paper will also set out ways to use “zoning tools” such as Local Development Orders to make it easier for development to come forward.
- Streamlining of Compulsory Purchase Orders to promote their use by local authorities to help kick start more regeneration.
- Reviewing the formula to calculate housing need for local plans.
- An aspiration to deliver more development in urban areas and “near to” urban areas, on brownfield land and above or close to railway lines. But no mention is made of development close to transport hubs in the green belt.
- £400 million funding to promote brownfield land re-use, where the government will be working with Mayors and Local Authorities.
- A new £10 billion Single Housing Infrastructure Fund to be set out in the Spending Review Statement.
- Permitted Development to add height to existing buildings, by summer 2020 the government will allow an additional two storeys onto residential blocks.
- Consultation on further Permitted Development Rights – a consultation on Permitted Development Rights to allow vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks to be demolished and replaced with well-designed homes which meet natural light standards.
- A new December 2023 deadline for getting up-to-date Local Plans in place – this is the latest in a long line of such targets that have come and gone. This will be a staggering 20 years on from the 2004 Planning Act that recast local plan making and has meant some local authorities have not had a post-2004 plan in place since.
- Four new development corporations in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc – these will be established in or around Bedford, St Neots / Sandy, Cambourne and Cambridge – this includes plans to explore the case for a “new town” near Cambridge.
- A Future Homes Standard to require up to 80% lower carbon emissions from new homes by 2025 and explore options for a new net zero development at Toton in the East Midlands.
- Reviewing the NPPF policy for building in flood risk areas.
- A fast track for good design – developments which are considered ‘beautiful’ will be fast-tracked through the planning process, the definition of beautiful to conform to the national design guide or any local variants (akin to Neighbourhood Plans) developed with the input of local people. Jenrick then pre-empted the scope for local variation by stating that tree-lined streets will be mandated as the ‘new norm’.
- A national Brownfield Land map / register to promote its re-use and new transparency for development option agreements covering land.
- Consultation on reforming the New Homes Bonus in Spring 2020 to increase incentives for development.
- A new national model for shared ownership which will be “consumer-friendly” and “more accessible”.
- £640 million to combat rough sleeping – this money will provide new ‘move-on’ accommodation and support for substance misuse services.
- A “New Homes Ombudsman” to address “rogue developers.”
The full document can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/planning-for-the-future